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Adolescents experience high rates of mental health problems but are reluctant to seek professional help. Parents play an integral role in the help seeking process for their adolescent children. Parental authoritativeness and support have been identified as contributing to better mental health outcomes and a reduction in help seeking barriers in their children. The current study examined the influence of parental authoritativeness and support on help seeking intentions and behaviors in 1582 students (49% female) in 17 schools (mean age = 17.7, range 16–18). All data was available for 1032 participants across two time points collected one year apart. Concurrent indices of positive parenting were associated with greater help seeking intentions from professional sources, even when gender and psychological distress were controlled. Parental authoritativeness and parental support did not predict actual help seeking assessed one year later. The study highlights the potential role of parents in influencing help seeking and suggests further research is needed on other parent variables and the social antecedents to help-seeking.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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